Elections: Right Unable to Regain Lead

brasserie lipp
The Brasserie Lipp is the annex of the National Assembly.

Papon Trial Grinds to a Close, Slowly

Paris:- Saturday, 14. March 1998:- French voters will go toposter: 'baeckeeroot' fn the polls tomorrow, and Le Parisien thinks they do not know exactly why. Most voters will be choosing General Councilors for Cantons and Regional Councilors for Regions.

Since 1986, France has been divided into 22 Regions, with four others in off-shore territories. These regions are based on the ancient provinces of France.

Elected Regional Councilors sit at the headquarters of the region, vote for the regional budget, and represent the region on various commissions - for higher education, public transport, roads, parks and help guide regional development.

France is also divided into 96 Departments, withposter: lutte ouvriere an additional four off-shore. The Departments were created at the time of the Revolution. These are divided into a total of 4,034 Cantons, of which 2,038 will be voting tomorrow. The term is for six years but there is a three-year overlap; and the Cantons not having elections tomorrow will be having theirs in three years.

Elected General Councilors form the General Council of the Department, and they control the budget of it. Paris is a Department - the 75 - as well as a city, but its municipal council serves as its General Council too, so the 163 councilors serve the two purposes. Paris is either considered to be one Canton or none.

Since it is mostly about money, Departments handle about three times the cash flow of Regions. Regions cannot borrow to finance current expenses, so their budgets are tighter.

Sunday Election Update

Early TV results right after the polling stations closed put the leftist coalition of the Socialist Party, the French Communists, andposter: 'huchon' ps, pcf, verts, etc assorted Lefts in the lead. The rightist group composed mostly of the RPR and the UDF were estimated to have less, and the ultra right-wing National Front was estimated with its habitual 15 percent.

About 30 minutes later, the Minister of the Interior, after making several remarks about the National Front 'not being a normal political party,' said that it had slightly gained its share over the results for the last election.

Later figures put the leftist score at 40 percent and the moderate rightist score at 35.6 percent; and added that the right hadposter: anti-corruption slipped six points since the 1992 elections. The FN slipped over 15 percent. The abstention rate was high, at 41.9 percent.

Whatever the exact figures, most of the contested seats had three-way races. For any that did not give one party a clear majority, a second-round runoff between the two top vote-getters tonight, will be held next Sunday.

The campaign was hard-fought in Paris, and it looked like the left will have a 'relative' victory - a first for the left, in this RPR stronghold. Many 'big hats' of the centre-right are in serious trouble for not pulling their side out of its long-time slump.

The 100 Million Franc Thing

Yesterday, the 13th, and a Friday, France went Loto-crazy. For the occasion, the Loto organizers put on a special, Friday-only Loto, withposter: 'about' udf, cnip, rpr the top prize of 100 million francs.

Radio France Info was saying Friday morning the Loto expected to take in 450 million for the one-day affair.

A small bar in Asnières called Le Boyard sold a ticket last year which paid 150,077,770 francs on 20. March. This year there is a regular pilgrimage to this bar, as there is to any place where there was a big win.

At my local café this morning, I noted that somebody had become richer by 100,080,720 francs around 20:55 last night.

More Radio Blues

When I have time to listen, radio France Info tels me all sorts of facts. Fact one: the world price of crude oil has dropped 30 percent over the last three months.

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